Sylvia Jess passed away Feb. 16 at age 95.
She was preceded in death by her husband Louis Jess, parents Meyer and Nettie Katzman, and brother Dan Katzman.
She is survived by her children: Barbara Jess, Sandy Jess, Howard and Anne Jess, and Linda Jess; grandchildren: Becky and Casey Mann, Levi Jess and Mike Jess; great-granddaughter, Luna Nafziger Jess; sister and brother Charlotte and Morley Zipursky, and nieces and nephews Steven Katzman, Saragail Benjamin, Janet and Syd Thompson, Diane Quale, Jim and Sally Zipursky, and Helene and Sherwin Geitner; many grand nieces and nephews; and dear loving family and friends in Omaha and throughout the US.
Sylvia was born on May 21, 1921, in Omaha. She attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where she met her husband Lou who was temporarily stationed there. They were married and lived in Omaha after the end of the war, where they raised their children. After Lou’s death in 1964, she worked for several years as treasurer for the Commodore Corporation. Sylvia was a major contributor to Jewish Philanthropies following the 6-day war in 1967. Inspired by that experience, in 1971, along with her sisters Charlotte Zipursky and Ruth Katzman, she established Gilah, a gift shop featuring Israeli art, jewelry and clothing, as a way of providing a steady stream of income to Israel. She enjoyed traveling on buying trips to Israel with Charlotte.
Gilah closed in 1986; after that, Sylvia threw herself into several volunteer activities: providing bereavement contact through VNA Hospice; book, news and poetry reading for Radio Talking Book Service, and as a reading tutor for the Omaha Public Schools. She combined those activities with travel: yearly trips to Palm Springs with her sister and brother Charlotte and Morley, with their unending games of Scrabble; biannual (or more) trips to visit children and grandchildren in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Seattle; and family reunions and birthday celebrations in Colorado, Chicago, and San Francisco. Trips to visit children and grandchildren always required two suitcases: one for clothes, the other packed full of her famous snickerdoodles, brownies, toll house brittle, blackstone crumb cake, and more. Until just several years ago, Shabbat mornings found Sylvia at Beth El Synagogue, of which she was a strong lifetime supporter.
Memorials may be made to Beth El Synagogue, the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home or VNA Hospice.